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Nurses applaud First-Ever National Standard to Address Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)  in Drinking Water


Sarah Bucic
Policy Consultant
Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments

Nurses applaud First-Ever National Standard to Address Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)  in Drinking Water

Washington, D.C.– Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the first-ever national, legally enforceable, scientifically supported drinking water standard to protect communities from exposure to harmful per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as ‘forever chemicals.’ Under this standard, EPA is establishing legally enforceable levels, or “maximum contaminant levels” (MCLs),  for six Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances or “PFAS.” Five PFAS, including PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS, and HFPO-DA, will have individual MCLs while the rule also sets a limit for mixtures of any two or more of: PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and HFPO-DA  – these are commonly known as “GenX chemicals.” Today’s rule also requires public water utilities to monitor for PFAS with utilities having three years to complete initial monitoring. Beginning in 2027, utilities will be required to provide the public with information on the levels of these PFAS in their drinking water and by 2029, public water systems will also be required to implement solutions to reduce these PFAS if levels exceed the maximum contaminant levels.

Most people are exposed to mixtures of PFAS and there is sufficient evidence that certain PFAS are associated with health outcomes including decreased antibody responses and dyslipidemia in both adults and children as well as decreased infant and fetal growth and increased risk of kidney cancer in adults. 

In response to the announcement of today’s standard, the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments Executive Director Katie Huffling, DNP, RN, CNM, FAAN issued the following statement: 

“Today’s release of National Primary Drinking Water Standards for PFAS is an important step toward fulfilling the Biden Administration’s commitment to tackle these toxic forever chemicals as well as advance environmental justice. Communities of color and low-income communities have historically faced disproportionate exposure to pollution and cumulative adverse health effects from multiple co-occurring contaminants. By regulating dangerous PFAS in drinking water, these final standards will reduce PFAS exposure for approximately 100 million people, prevent thousands of deaths, and reduce tens of thousands of serious illnesses. As drinking water is a significant pathway of PFAS exposure, addressing contamination before it reaches our taps is key to reducing associated health problems. We therefore applaud EPA’s recognition that both individual PFAS and chemical mixtures of PFAS can threaten human health. 

“It is important to note that the PFAS addressed by EPA’s final standard are just a few PFAS among a class of forever chemicals of which there are thousands. As nurses and healthcare providers quickly educate themselves on how to adequately assess patients and communities for PFAS exposure and provide resources on how to reduce exposure and take proactive steps to monitor for potential health outcomes, we urge EPA to continue to expedite efforts to prevent these forever chemicals from polluting the environment in the first place.”

In addition to today’s historic first-ever national legally enforceable drinking water standard for PFAS, EPA is also making unprecedented funding available to help ensure that all people have clean and safe water with $1 billion in newly available funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This funding will help states and territories implement PFAS testing and treatment at public water systems and to help owners of private wells address PFAS contamination. For more information, the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments has created a PFAS Toolkit for Clinicians which provides health professionals with information to guide their clinical practice and decision making regarding PFAS.


The Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments is the only national nursing organization focused solely on the intersection of health and the environment. The mission of the Alliance is to promote healthy people and healthy environments by educating and leading the nursing profession, advancing research, incorporating evidence-based practice, and influencing policy.